Rikers High

Rikers High

by Paul Volponi


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Rikers High by Paul Volponi

An unflinching story about justice, courage, and the life of one young man behind bars.

It started out as an innocent day for Martin, but it quickly turned into his worst nightmare—arrested for something he didn't even mean to do. And five months later, he is still locked up in jail on infamous Rikers Island. Just when things couldn't get worse, Martin gets caught in a fight between two prisoners, and his face is slashed. He's scarred forever, but one good thing comes from the attack: Martin is transferred to a part of Rikers where inmates must attend high school. When he meets his caring and understanding teacher, will Martin open up and learn from his situation? Or will he be consumed by prison and getting revenge on his attackers?

"Volponi, who taught on Rikers Island for six years, writes with an authenticity that will make readers feel Martin's fear."—Publishers Weekly

"Volponi . . . brings to life a believable range of teachers, COs, and inmates and portrays power, hierarchies, and race relations both outside and inside the jail walls with unflinching realism."—School Library Journal 

"With down-to-earth language based on his own experiences . . . Volponi captures the reader."—VOYA 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142417782
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 02/17/2011
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 546,650
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: 790L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Paul Volponi is the author of the critically acclaimed young adult novel Black & White. From 1992 to 1998, he taught adolescents on Rikers Island in New York City to read and write. Mr. Volponi worked at a day treatment center like Daytop teaching students and helping them prepare for the GED. Mr. Volponi lives in New York City.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"With down-to-earth language based on his own experiences . . . Volponi captures the reader." -VOYA

Customer Reviews

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Rikers High 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is about a boy named martain who was sent to jail for answering a question. Heis sent to rikers island while he waits for conviction. Rikers island has mostly blacks and hispanics. He is sent to mod 1. When his trial is canceled for the thrid time, he gets hurt and is sent to #3 and meets kids theie. When he gets there, he finds out that there is a high school there. It is so if kids get out they can make something of themselves. Maartain meets a no good thug and a few friends. Martain also meets mean COs who hit the inmates for no reason, but no one reports the abuse. Martain also meets some one who gives him hope: a teacher. He helps martain. But he iis also upset by what happened to him before he got moved #3. He wants revenge, but will her decide to hurt the kid who hurt him? I thought this was a really good book. I liked the way the author wrote about everyone and that it was kinda funny.
NilWafer More than 1 year ago
Rikers High was a new type of read for me, being a realistic fiction novel. Paul Volponi did an excellent job on writing this novel. I believe that working on Rikers Island helped him write this story because he was able to use his experiences and put them into stories about the characters. I felt that I was able "get into" the story because it was about teens that are my age. In the story Martin Stokes is falsely convicted on a drug charge and put into Rikers Island Prison. Martin is stuck with a lawyer that does not particularly care about him or his case because she is a lawyer that is provided by the state. Because of this he has trials that fall through and he is not able to get into the court for his hearing. On the bus ride back to the prison he is caught in the middle of an inmate fight that contained a razor. During the fight, he is sliced across the face and is scarred for the rest of his life. While at the prison he interacts with the other prisoners and becomes good friends with two characters, Ritz and Sanchez. The three friends become closer as the story goes on, until a few days before Martin is scheduled to go home a tragic event causes things to spiral out of control. By the end of the book I was not able to put it down because I wanted to know what happened to Martin and what was going on inside the prison. I enjoyed reading this book and I will look for more books written by Paul Volponi.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jhildred More than 1 year ago
My Review: Characters: Paul Volponi creates authentic characters in Rikers High. Martin the main character is brought to life through the descriptions and interactions with other characters. Ritz, Jessup, Sanchez, Brick, and Shaky are all inmates in Rikers. These characters each play a significant role in developing the authenticity of the novel. Paul Volponi pulls from his background knowledge to create this range of characters. In addition to the inmates, Volponi does an excellent job creating a divers group of teachers and COs. I appreciate, as a teacher myself, the attention to the diverse teaching style of each of the teachers. Not everyone good, not everyone bad reflects the truth of teachers in a school. Plot/Conflict/Theme: Martin, 'Forty', is cut when he gets in the middle of an attack on another inmate. This inciting incident causes Martin to be removed from the main jail and moved to the Sprung. While at the Sprung, Martin is forced to attend school, at first reluctantly, then he began to enjoy attending classes at the jail high school. Throughout the novel, the inmates encounter various conflicts all depicting the difficulty of surviving each of them bring Martin back to his attack. Martin receives a letter from his father warning him not to fall into the traps and holes that keep inmates in prison for longer if not for life. Martin struggles with trying to avoid the traps and holes because of his conflicted desire for revenge and for freedom. Quality of Writing: For the most part Paul Volponi's writing is interesting, but there are weak parts in his writing. The vocabulary for instance is lacking and slightly boring. "Dudes and Herbs" were over used terms to describe other inmates. The lack of variety in word choice cause the reader to loose interest in the story, even though the plot and characters are interesting. Rating: Book: A for Average Cover: A for Average Review taken from my blog: Ink Slinger's Index
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Author Paul Volponi's real-life experience working with kids behind bars is the inspiration for RIKERS HIGH. His work teaching adolescent inmates to read and write help give this novel a realistic tone that will speak to teen as well as adult readers. Martin is weeks away from being released from Rikers Island. He earned his time there for giving an undercover cop information about where to buy drugs. Even though he viewed it as an honest mistake, he was in handcuffs outside his front door before his mother had time to get out the door to ask questions. As Martin tells his story, readers learn about life in the Rikers Island prison system. After spending some of his time in the adult population, Martin is moved to Sprung #3, which houses juvenile offenders. These young inmates attend school and hopefully spend their time in more productive activities than the older prisoners, but life is still rough and they face daily challenges - from uncooperative fellow prisoners and corrupt corrections officers. Martin describes the violence, the "business" some inmates conduct to profit from their fellow prisoners, the mistreatment at the hands of those in charge, and the homesickness and worry about family members on the outside. All of this combines to create a tense, stressful environment where young men are still expected to learn in the classroom and maintain control of raging emotions. Martin tries to keep his nose clean and focus on his release date, but he knows one wrong move or bad decision could end with a longer sentence and possibly a move back to the adult population. Trouble with his lawyer and a vicious attack that leaves him with a disfiguring facial scar make staying focused a real challenge. Martin's determination to return to his family and make the needed changes in his life makes his a truly inspiring story. Paul Volponi has a real following among teen readers, and when they learn that RIKERS HIGH has a real-life connection to the author's own experience, it is sure to be a popular read.